I turned 8 yesterday! And, yes, I’m giving books away.

IMG_5011This is the advent book tree I made for Gage this year and has nothing to do with my blogiversary, but I think it looks bookish and festive!  I don’t have any big insights to share of my eight years posting here.  According to my stats, this is my 1961st post!  Wow.  I had no idea how fulfilling and time-consuming blogging would be when I started and the years have flown by.  Seriously, it does seem like a throwaway to say that, but when I look at how long I’ve known some of you I can hardly believe it.

I usually give away something to mark the occasion and this year is no different.  My two favorite books that first year were

fpoStephen King’s On Writing.  This is what I said,  I loved this book.  I loved the mix of humor, truth, detail, and brevity.  I have been charmed by a horror writer and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

fpoOrson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. This is what I said, I loved this book.  It was psychological, political, philosophical and just plain fun. 

I’m going to give them both away.  Just leave me a comment and tell me which one (you can say both) you want.  I’ll draw names at the end of the month.  Open internationally.

If you’ve already read these and want me to send them to a friend if you win that’s okay too.  Thanks for supporting my blogging habit over the years!  It’s only because of the friends I’ve made that I’ve made it this long 🙂

 

A GIVEAWAY you won’t want to miss!

Last night I had the pleasure of taking my mom to a “Meet the Author” event at a local library where we ran into a friend who was also there with her mother! Both of us have children on the autism spectrum and were there to hear Eli Gottlieb talk about his just released book, Best Boy.

Best Boy is written from the voice of Todd, a 50-something autistic man who lives in a group facility and has since he was eleven.  He misses his mother (these have been emotional points for me so far) and just wants to go home. Both of his parents are gone and his brother who lives far away has responsibility for his care.  Todd is straightforward, loves the encyclopedia, and likes routine.

This book has received rave reviews and it was released last week. Eli read two chapters from the book and then opened the floor for questions.  Here are a few of the things I found interesting…

*his older brother is autistic and Eli is his guardian.  While the character of Todd was high functioning, his brother is not and he does not consider this a memoir.  He doesn’t even want to say it’s an accurate representation of autism (and a passionate parent asked), instead he sees it as a sympathetic work that is an emotional journey for the reader.

*when asked if he resented his brother growing up he responded with, “how could you not? he absorbed all the oxygen in the room.”  He was brokenhearted and angry and writing was his outlet.  This was the part that my friend and I talked about afterward.  She was sitting there, a mother of three, listening to the reality of sibling angst and I was sitting there wondering who is going to be looking out for my guy when I’m gone.  There is no perfect answer and Eli didn’t attempt to give one.

*this took 3 1/2 years to write although the voice was there for as long as he could remember. It left him psychologically exhausted to live inside Todd’s head for that long.  When asked about how he writes he said that he is disorganized with no blueprint or notes and he is in the dark, linking one sentence to the next until an arc emerges.

*His brother, who inspired the character of Todd, will be featured in a New York Times op-ed this week or next.

Okay, so my friend sent me an ARC of the book that I’ve been carrying around in my purse for at least a week (I’m halfway through) and I had Eli sign it tonight to give to one of you!

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Sound good?  All you need to do is tell me you want it in a comment.  Please include an email address so that I can easily reach you if you win.  Open internationally.

It would be cool if you included how autism has touched your life, if at all.

I’ll draw a winner in 2 weeks, the week of September 14th.

TLC Book Tour & GIVEAWAY! The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

The Serpent of Venice: A NovelThe Serpent of Venice.

TLC Book Tour here.  I want to thank TLC for providing a book for the giveaway!

Venice, a really long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from Britain who also happens to be a favorite of the Doge: the rascal-Fool, Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising a spirited evening with a rare Amontillado sherry and a fetching young noblewoman. Their invitation is, of course, a ruse. The wine is drugged; the girl is nowhere in sight. These scoundrels have something far less amusing planned for the man who has consistently foiled their quest for power and wealth. But this Fool is no fool . . . and the story is only beginning.

Once again, Christopher Moore delivers a rousing literary satire and a cast Shakespeare himself would be proud of: Shylock; Iago; Othello; a dozen or so disposable villains; a cadre of comely wenches; the brilliant Fool; his sidekick, Drool; his monkey, Jeff; a lovesick sea serpent; and a ghost (there’s always a bloody ghost).

Wickedly witty and outrageously inventive, The Serpent of Venice pays cheeky homage to the Bard and illuminates the absurdity of the human condition as only Christopher Moore can.

If you haven’t tried a Christopher Moore novel then you haven’t tried everything.  My first Moore reading was Lamb:The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal and I was amazed at the quality of the story and storytelling.  Irreverent is how I often describe it.  And with this novel, I am back on board the Moore bandwagon.  As I mention any chance I get, I love Venice.  It was my first overseas trip and that amazing city will always have a place in my heart so when I saw that Moore was taking on Venice AND Shakespeare (another love of mine) I knew I’d have to read it.

The sheer amount of talent it took to connect some of Shakespeare’s more recognizable characters from The Merchant of Venice, Othello and King Lear (with a little Edgar Allen Poe walled in) is impressive.  Moore’s sense of humor and wit is on prominent display in this over-the-top homage.

One of the main characters, Pocket, a favorite of the Doge who shows up first in Fool, grew on me as did this whole assembly of colorful characters.  There was sex, murder, revenge, resurrection, a monster, Marco Polo, and love.  Not bad for a few hours of delightful reading.

I don’t think Moore’s comic genius is for everyone.  You have to be willing to buy into the crazy.  And then you have to be able to tolerate, if not appreciate, quite a bit of juvenile boy language.  If you can do those two things I think you are a candidate for the Christopher Moore bandwagon.  Hop on in!

I HAVE A COPY TO GIVE AWAY!  To celebrate the release of the paperback edition I will randomly select one lucky winner on February 28th.  You’ll want to enter even if you are on the fence about the story because the cover is gorgeous and fun and you’ll want it on your shelves.  Open internationally.

To enter just tell me you want entered in a comment and you’re done.  If you want an extra entry you can Tweet about it and/or post about it on your blog.  Just let me know you did.  Good luck!

A reminder about my giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

Gage got me up before 5:30 this morning so I’m too tired to write a review, but I wanted to remind you that I’m giving awaya signed copy of Thrity Umrigar’s book about growing up in India and a bag this month.  You can see my original post here.  I’ll even give you a chance to get an extra entry. Comment here AND there and get an entry for each!  If you want to tweet about it and let me know in your comment I’ll  throw in another entry.  Make sure you leave an email address.

Open internationally.  I’ll draw a winner November 25.

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First Darling of the Morning:Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

In addition, author Duffy Brown graciously contributed a great canvas bag highlighting her new series set on Mackinac Island, Geared for the Grave.

Mailbox Monday – November 3- with a giveaway!

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.  

Nothing arrived via mailbox this week but on Saturday I attended the 27th annual Buckeye Book Fair.  It was an hour drive but I considered it a personal date and enjoyed my excursion without pickups or meal planning or swim lessons for the little man.  It was bit overwhelming at first because it was so crowded, but then I took a deep breath and dove right in.  There were many well-known authors and lots I’d never heard of. It was tough talking to an author and looking at their books and then deciding not to purchase, but I could only justify so many books!!  Read or skip to the end to see what signed book I’m giving away!

I was really there thanks to author Emilie Richards since she mentioned it on Facebook last week and so I made sure to find her.  She was so nice in person, even insisting on a photo with the two of us. I’m a fan and am working my way through her books.  I purchased Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second in the Goddesses Anonymous series.

emilie IMG_1150

Cristy Haviland served eight months in prison, giving birth behind bars to the child of the man who put her there and might yet destroy her. Now she’s free again, but what does that mean? As smart as she is, a learning disability has kept her from learning to read. And that’s the least of her hurdles.

Georgia Ferguson, talented educator, receives a mysterious charm bracelet that may help her find the mother who abandoned her at birth. Does she want to follow the clues, and if she does, can reticent Georgia reach out for help along the way?

Both women are standing at a crossroads, a place where unlikely unions can be formed. A place where two very different women might bridge the gap between generations and education, and together make tough choices.

Next up is the one I chose by the cover alone because I loved it so much. Ghosting by Edith Pattou.  She even gave me a paper crane she had made herself.  Gage loves it 🙂

IMG_1148  edith

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

I stopped to chat with Shelley Costa because I had seen this title around and I wanted to tell her how clever I thought it was.  We chatted  few minutes and I learned that she lives in the next town (where I would love to live if we ever moved again) so I had to buy it, the first in a series, You Cannoli Die Once.

IMG_1149shelley

At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Never cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery that’s been in her family for four generations, has butted heads with her head chef over the cannoli ban more than once. And when the head chef is your own granddaughter, things can get a little heated.

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Can a woman this fiery and stubborn over cream-filled pastry be capable of murder?

 

My next two purchases were by authors I didn’t know but something about the books made me want to give them a try.  Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins is about a disgraced Ohio State quarterback who lives in Columbus and since this is football season I had to have it.  The second is what happens to us as the world runs out of water.

fourth

Fourth Down and Out by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

The job seems easy enough at first for private investigator Andy Hayes: save his client’s reputation by retrieving a laptop and erasing a troublesome video from its hard drive. But that’s before someone breaks into Andy’s apartment in Columbus; before someone else, armed with a shotgun, relieves him of the laptop; and before the FBI suddenly shows up on his doorstep asking questions.

Soon, there’s a growing list of people with a claim on the computer, all of them with secrets they don’t want uncovered. When one of those people ends up dead, Andy has his hands full convincing authorities he’s not responsible, while trying to figure out who is—and who’s got the laptop—before someone else dies. Soon the trail leads to the last place Andy wants to go: back to Ohio State University, where few have forgiven him for a mistake he made two decades earlier in his days as the Buckeyes’ star quarterback. That misjudgment sent him on a downward spiral that cost him a playing career, two marriages, several wrecked relationships, and above all his legacy in Ohio’s capital city, where the fortunes of the OSU team are never far from people’s minds.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

Two for Gage.

egg

Whose Egg is This? by Lisa Amstutz

Eggs come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some eggs are hard. Other eggs are soft. Can you match each egg to its owner? Fun clues and multiple choice photos will have you puzzling to learn more!

The Giant of Seville:A “Tall” Tale Based on a True Story by Dan Andreasen

In the 1870s, a circus giant named Captain Martin Van Buren Bates left the circus and set off to find a town where he and his wife (also a circus giant) could live in peace. Captain Bates happened on Seville, Ohio, a sleepy little town that charmed him from the moment he arrived and welcomed him with open arms.


GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

I picked up a book signed by Thrity Umrigar to give away.  I’ve heard her speak and have several of her books already so I wanted to give you the chance to experience a respected Ohio author for free. She lives up in the Cleveland area just like me!  This is not a new book but I chose it because I think most of you will like it.

IMG_1154

First Darling of the Morning:Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

In addition, author Duffy Brown graciously contributed a great canvas bag highlighting her new series set on Mackinac Island, Geared for the Grave.

I’ll draw a winner on November 25 so I can get it mailed before Thanksgiving.  It would make  great Christmas gift for yourself or someone else 🙂  Open internationally.

Wanna win?  Just tell me so in your comment and leave an email address. Good luck!

 

 

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott w/ giveaway

The End of Everything: A NovelThe End of Everything. Finished audio 4-19-14, rating 3/5. fiction, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio 8 1/2 hours, read by Emily Bauer

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor, Evie Verver, are inseparable, best friends who swap clothes, bathing suits, and field-hockey sticks and between whom, presumably, there are no secrets. Then one afternoon, Evie disappears, and as a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the balmy suburban community, everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, or upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Compelled by curiosity, Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power as the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret and begins to wonder if she knew anything at all about her best friend.

from Goodreads

Once I finished this book, the one word that kept coming to mind was creepy.  Our narrator, Lizzie, perhaps most of all.  Her reaction at the disappearance of her best friend was puzzling to me, mainly because there didn’t seem to be one.  Her almost-casual willingness to help find her was all about spending time with Mr. Verver.  There were a lot of damaged characters in this book, but none so more than Lizzie.

The writing was good and the mystery surrounding Evie kept me reading, so I’d consider checking out another from this author, but the over-sexualized barely teen girls of this one will probably leave a bad taste in my mouth for awhile.

I know lots of bloggers loved this one, so I do wonder if the narration led to some of disappointment.

I own the hardcover book (even though I listened to the audio) and since it’s not something I want to keep, I’m offering it to one of you free of charge!

Leave a comment with your email address and I’ll throw your name in to win.  I’ll draw a winner on May 15th!

The Doll Giveaway!

So, I was able to spend some time with Taylor Stevens, the author of the Vanessa Michael Monroe series, last month and brought home a new, signed hardcover copy of the latest in the series, #3.  I decided to give it away this month since Taylor assured me that France is in the book 🙂  Although I haven’t read this one yet I can recommend this series for thriller lovers and those who love kick ass women.

The Doll (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #3)The Doll, 2013

Haunted by a life of violence and as proficient with languages as she is with knives, Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and hunter, has built her life on a reputation for getting things done—dangerous and often not-quite-legal things. Born to missionary parents in lawless Africa, taken under the tutelage of gunrunners, and tortured by one of the jungle’s most brutal men, Munroe was forced to do whatever it took to stay alive.
   The ability to survive, fight, adapt, and blend has since taken her across the globe on behalf of corporations, heads of state, and the few private clients who can afford her unique brand of expertise, and these abilities have made her enemies. 
   On a busy Dallas street, Munroe is kidnapped by an unseen opponent and thrust into an underground world where women and girls are merchandise and a shadowy figure known as The Doll Maker controls her every move. While trusted friends race to unravel where she is and why she was taken, everything pivots on one simple choice: Munroe must use her unique set of skills to deliver a high-profile young woman into the same nightmare that she once endured, or condemn to torture and certain death the one person she loves above all else.
   Driven by the violence that has made her what she is, cut off from help, and with attempts to escape predicted and prevented, Munroe will hunt for openings, for solutions, and a way to strike back at a man who holds all the cards. Because only one thing is certain: she cannot save everyone. 
   In this high-octane thriller for fans of Lee Child, Stieg Larsson, and Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy, Vanessa Michael Munroe will have to fight fast, smart and furiously to overcome a dangerous nemesis and deliver her trademark brand of justice.

from Goodreads

Want to win a signed copy?  All you need to do is leave a comment with your email address.  I will count EVERY comment you leave on any of my posts this month as an entry.  Just make sure you leave your email on this post so I know you want it. I’ll tally previous and future July post comments for the drawing.  Open worldwide 🙂

Gage will draw a winner on July 31, so get to commenting 🙂

France 127I bet the super heroine, Vanessa Michael Monroe, uses these sidewalk gas pumps!  (courtesy of Bookbath)

E is for Extras (that means free stuff)

Blogging from A-Z

Every year when I collect all of my unread books in one spot I find a few doubles.  I know I want the book, buy it and then discover it’s already it in the house!!  So, I need your help to find new homes for these books, 2 of them are favorites of mine and 3 I still need to read.  Leave a comment telling me which ones you want and Gage will randomly draw winners on Friday, April 26th (that happens to be the day for W).

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1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. My first book of magical realism and I loved it.  The book is new.

2. Beloved by Toni Morrison. One of my favorite reads from last year.

3. The Devil’s Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver. A favorite author but I haven’t read this one yet.

4. Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  Loved the movie and I can’t wait to read this one.

5. The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold.  Loved her first book and I hope I love this one too.

Happy reading!  List all the ones that you want, you can win more than one.

Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann, pictures by Maurice Sendak GIVEAWAY!

NutcrackerNutcracker. December has gotten away from me around here and I forgot to give away a this gorgeous hardcover book.

I used it in a quiz a few weeks ago and you can click here to see the pics I took.  It is 100 pages of gorgeousness 🙂  I want to thank Debbie from Random House for sending this book for the quiz and a giveaway.

Overview

“A classic, new and complete. One of the ten best illustrated children’s books of the year.” — New York Times Book Review

The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann’s wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.

The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak’s art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann’s story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.

                        After hearing how her toy nutcracker got his ugly face, a little girl helps break the spell and watches him change into a handsome prince.

I’d like to get this mailed this week, so let’s get the giveaway started!  To be entered just leave a comment with your email address.  For a second entry you can tweet about it or post a link to Facebook.

Gage will draw a winner before he goes to bed on Thursday night (12/20). 

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

American DervishAmerican Dervish, Finished listening 12-4-12, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2012

The unabridged audio os 9.5 hours and read by the author.

Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.

Mina is Hayat’s mother’s oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful and intelligent, and arrives on the Shah’s doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat’s skeptical father can’t deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family’s Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. Studying the Quran by Mina’s side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.

from Goodreads

The book does an excellent job at delving into the life of Pakistanis that had moved to the midwest, with their customs and faith.  At times it felt like an Islam primer and I’m saying that in a positive way.  I enjoyed learning about new aspects to the religion that I was unfamiliar with, it’s been a long time since my college religion class!  Hayat’s parents were very lax Muslims and when Hayat became entranced with the Koran he thought he had found a way to get them both to Heaven.  From the outset of the novel you know that Hayat loses his faith so there’s no surprise there, but how he loses it is sad.

Since I really enjoyed that aspect why am I only rating it a 3?  As a story I just didn’t connect.  I never really liked Hayat and since it was his story that was a problem.  The character I found most interesting was his father, a flawed man with a sound mind.  As a coming of age story I was somewhat bored through most of it, although that may have more to do with me than the book.  I thought the beginning and end of story served little purpose. At the beginning I thought there would be more about his current life and in the end I didn’t feel like he’d made big strides as a person.

I thought the author did a fine job with the narration.  I am always drawn to audio books read by the author and this totally felt like his story as he was reading it.

I won the audio book cd’s from Nise and would love to share the love.  If you are interested in having me send them to you, just be the first to leave a comment to tell me so.  You could listen to it on your holiday travels 🙂